Eleven-year-old Margaret has just moved to New Jersey, and she feels torn between picking a religion. Should she join the Y or the Jewish Community Center? Every day, Margaret talks to God, asking him for favors and advice. With feuding grandparents on each side of the religious debate and non-church going parents, Margaret must figure out who she truly is and what she believes in faith-wise. As if thinking about religion isn’t hard enough, Margaret is also going through puberty. With her clique of friends, she is concerned about her chest size and getting her period. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret is a clearly defined pre-teen book for third to sixth graders that used to land on many challenged book lists for its sexual offensiveness and amorality. I am sure some readers can laugh at Margaret asking God to please let her get her period while others may be offended that she speaks to God like a casual, imaginary friend. While I do not think that this book would cause such as a stink in modern times, I would empathize with pre-teen boys not wanting to read about girls getting their periods and buying bras in such graphic detail—unless they are curious. Originally written in 1970, the book is pretty retro as seen from the names of the girls to the older expressions. I had a few chuckles and will never get “I must, I must, I must increase my bust” out of my head. I love Judy Blume, but I do not think that I would recommend this title too often. Hamilton performs a solid, straight reading with few bells and whistles. I do appreciate the themes of friendship, growing up, and family and the fact that in 1970, Blume was not afraid to slam dysfunctional families, religion, and puberty on the table.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume and narrated by Laura Hamilton (Listening Library, 2010)